Saarbrücken beat Real Madrid 4-0 in a friendly in 1951. - © imago/Becker&Bredel
Saarbrücken beat Real Madrid 4-0 in a friendly in 1951. - © imago/Becker&Bredel
60 years of Bundesliga

Bundesliga club-by-club historical guide: 1. FC Saarbrücken


Saarbrücken have played in France, downed Real Madrid in Europe, only spent five seasons in the Bundesliga before being relegated in 1993, and are now DFB Cup giant-killers. is taking you through all the teams to have graced Germany’s first division over the last 60 years – based on the number of seasons they’ve played up to and including 2023/24.

1. FC Saarbrücken
Years in Bundesliga: 5 (1963/64, 1976-78, 1985/86, 1992/93)
Most appearances: Egon Schmitt (68)
Most goals: Roland Stegmayer (19)
Youngest player: Fritz Kress (19 years, 11 months, 16 days) 

Saarbrücken isn’t necessarily the place you’d look for on a map of Germany for footballing history, but the club has one of the most storied histories of all the one-time Bundesliga teams, and was once called “Europe’s most interesting football team” by former FIFA president Jules Rimet.

Between 1948 and 1951, they were actually part of the French league system after the Saarland Football Association had to leave the German set-up following World War II. They were forced to play in the second division as FC Sarrebruck, but weren’t part of the standings, so opted to play friendly matches instead, famously becoming the first German team to beat Real Madrid (4-0). They were also the first German club to play in the European Cup, alongside Rot-Weiss Essen, as the Saarland representative in 1955/56. They won 4-3 away at AC Milan but then lost 4-1 at home to be knocked out in the first round.

Bundesliga legend Tony Yeboah was given his start in German football by Saarbrücken. - IMAGO / Kicker/Liedel

Consistently strong finishes in the Oberliga Südwest saw Saarbrücken earn a place in the first Bundesliga season in 1963/64, but they finished bottom and would remain in the second tier until a return in 1976. They lasted two years on that occasion before dropping to the third tier, but a revival meant they were back again in 1985. Again, their time on the big stage lasted only a year, yet they returned once again in 1992. And they finished bottom once more.

That and ensuing financial issues saw forced demotion to the third tier in 1995. A mini revival failed to materialise into more as they fell from Bundesliga 2 in 2006 to the fifth tier in 2008. The team that once enjoyed such unique status in Europe, and brought the likes of Anthony Yeboah and Eric Wynalda to German football, have since flitted between the third and fourth tiers.

Watch: All of Saarbrücken's DFB Cup goals in 2023/24 so far!

Most recently, however, they have come back into the spotlight for their remarkable DFB Cup runs. In 2019/20 they became the first team from the fourth tier to reach the semi-finals. They didn't compete again in the competition until 2023/24 when they again reached the final four, thanks to a remarkable run that saw them eliminate Bayern Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Mönchengladbach. The Saarlanders have won eight of their nine matches in those two campaigns, with all eight coming against teams from higher divisions and five against Bundesliga clubs. They are now the cup's modern giant-killers.

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